THE NUMBER of older people working has declined since the end of the 19th century when some Victorians had to continue supporting themselves in physically-demanding jobs such as mining and farming into their 80s or 90s.
The family history website Ancestry.co.uk revealed more than half of workers carried on beyond 65 in the 1890s, compared with just 10 per cent today.
Research among millions of records in the 1891 census revealed examples of men mining for coal aged 89 or working as agricultural labourers into their 90s, with women working as domestic helpers into their mid-80s. With no pension or welfare funds, elderly people had no financial support, unless they had help from relatives.
Miriam Silverman, of Ancestry.co.uk, said: “We may be facing a retirement crisis today but it is nothing compared to what Victorian workers experienced, with this research providing a shocking picture of the struggles elderly people faced in their day-to-day lives.”